“Somewhere, between our body, our ancestors and our nightmares, we decide on who we’re going to be, and how we’re going to be constructed.
‘Ancestors whisper themselves into my dreams in languages I don’t speak and if these are the lights that are meant to guide me home, why don’t I know their faces?’ -Excerpt from ‘A Body Gleaned.’ Lyrical poet Lay the Mystic is teaming up with Iki San, Sioness, Veisinia Tonga and Lesieli Taufa to explore the construction of identity. How reliable is the interpretation of culture passed down in a foreign language? How much do we lose in translation? How do your surroundings and the dominant value systems on another’s land influence what you choose to keep and discard?
From the insides of floral sculptures, these artists will sing, dance and speak to you as dreams do. “Sharing stories of things we tried to learn and the pieces of history that we will and will not glean.”
‘A Body Gleaned,’ a collaborative, multimedium performance installation, presented as part of Critical Mass and Melbourne Fringe Festival, is set to welcome us into their space this Thursday 13th September. The Melbourne Critique spoke with Lay the Mystic, curator of ‘A Body Gleaned,’ for some insight into the world of the work leading up to its opening…
What is ‘A Body Gleaned’? What does it mean to you?
Aside from a show title that people get confused with ‘A Body Gleamed?’ Haha. The idea is that our bodies aren’t just physical; they’re made of feelings, memories and experiences that you have with the people around you. They’re also made out of the patterns of behaviour that we emulate, the systems we do and don’t participate in and the cultures that we contribute to. So, the idea of a body that’s Gleaned is around the way we make ourselves out of all the things history has left for us.
Hahaha! Ataahua//beautiful. What was it that inspired or directed you towards the making and facilitating of the performance installation?
I feel like it happened really organically. All round it was a concept that encapsulated a lot of the things that we were all thinking about in our individual practices. Lesieli Taufa was developing work around passing on cultural knowledge, Mum (Vei) was wanting to make a series of things out of Gleaned materials and driftwood. Sioness lives and breathes ancestors, and relates to their body as something that isn’t exclusively theirs. Iki has been exploring styling, costuming and design with a focus around bringing elements of Tonga into his context, here and now. And I was doing some thinking around how we are all connected, and how we’re making our non-physical bodies out of the pieces of knowledge and kindnesses from the people who influence you. And the show’s sort of turned into a space where we’re letting those ideas and concepts unfold.
So this is an installation in which multiple expressive mediums come together and exist in a space together… ‘Multidisciplinary’ in colonial language haha. A coexistence and amalgamation of offerings that make up a show between your collaborators and a reflection of what you said earlier about the making up of our bodies. Firstly, what are those elements? Or… what can people expect to experience at ‘A Body Gleaned?’ Secondly, did you want to speak to that collaborative nature of making? Is that significant to your and you collaborators’ practices?
So, the performance elements in the installation will include music, poetry, dance, sculptures, lighting design and film projection. What we aim to do is recreate feelings and experiences that help us navigate how we move through life, and that encompasses everything we could get in there, from found family, to clouds, to breath. A collaborative process was, sort of, the only way we could really do that, cause the further we all got into the process, the more it seems that we are just individuals.
That we all impact and effect each other, that our thoughts and actions are a collection of our experiences with all these people who seem to be placed in our lives, and the only thing we can do is choose how to respond and what to continue.